To say Capital Teas? founders, Manelle and Peter Martino, know tea might be a bit of an understatement. Fifth-generation tea merchant Manelle?s great-great-grandfather, Francis Van Reyk, was a Dutch tea planter who immigrated in the 1870s to present-day Sri Lanka, where he planted and managed the Diyagama Tea Estate, from which the Martinos now source their Great Grandfather?s tea. Manelle?s family has been in the tea trade ever since, a tradition she has carried to her own specialty tea business, which has boutique locations throughout the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland area. Additionally, Peter has become a popular speaker at World Tea Expos, where he frequently educates and inspires the tea world.
In addition to tea from Sri Lanka, Capital Teas carries more than 200 loose teas and herbal infusions from 18 countries including India, China, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya. A sniffing wall dispenses wafts of black, oolong, and green teas, and knowledgeable employees drift around the store?s tasting stations to explain each flavor?s nuances.
Capital Teas also pairs customers with accompaniments such as teapots, infusers, treats, and artisanal honey. In-store patrons may sample free tea samples?which are brewed fresh daily?while online purchasers receive a free sample with every order.
Even though Portuguese explorers couldn't pronounce the Swahili name for the African bird's eye chili—pili-pili—the sailors fully embraced its flavor shortly after landing in the region known today as Mozambique. Intrigued by the small, fiery pepper, they combined it with aromatic doses of herbs, garlic, and lemon to create the first peri-peri sauce. That sauce eventually became a wildly popular marinade for poultry, and the tasty concoction made its way to South Africa over the next several centuries. There, in 1987, two friends decided to honor this culinary legacy by founding the first Nando's Peri-Peri restaurant. The eatery continued to remain true to its South African roots, even while expanding to encompass locations in 24 countries across four continents.
Beginning with fresh chickens that never see the inside of a kitchen freezer, the chefs furtively marinate the birds in a secret peri-peri sauce for 24 hours before grilling them over an open flame. Diners dictate the heat level of their order, requesting that the grilled chicken arrive relatively mild or that wings be slathered with even more incendiary spices. The succulent chicken can be plated with hearty side dishes—such as Portuguese-style rice with herbs and peppers or peas with mint—or served in the form of a sandwich, wrap, or pita. To complement the menus' African flavors, Nando's worldwide locations collectively feature more than 4,000 pieces of African artwork.
In the dead of night in 1976, the Abi-Najm family boarded a cargo ship bringing only what they could carry; an escape from Civil War in Lebanon called for a quick getaway. They traveled across the ocean to safety in Arlington, Virginia, where they were able to open a small cafe in 1979. To save money, they changed the eatery?s name from ?Athenian Taverna? to ?Lebanese Taverna? so that they only had to update one word on the eatery?s marquee.
From these modest beginnings grew a series of eateries that today comprises of six cafes and four quick-service caf?s, all still operated by the Abi-Najm clan. One look at the menu explains the success: chicken shawarma, spicy hummus, lamb tartare?all Lebanese staples that helped the restaurant earn a spot on Northern Virginia magazine's list of 25 Iconic Eats. There's even kibbeh, or stuffed meatballs, which blend ground beef, lamb, almonds, and pine nuts into fried spheres suitable for felling miniature bowling pins on top of the table before entrees arrive. The decor is as striking as the cuisine; inside the Bethesda location, light filters through the colored glass lanterns that decorate the dining room.
BGR The Burger Joint?s burgers start with high-quality ingredients?most importantly, all-natural beef from grain-fed cattle, free to run in the fields and given zero hormones, fillers, or antibiotics. The prime beef is dry-aged, blended, and ground fresh to form patties that are grilled over an open flame, and then placed atop buttery, locally made brioche buns delivered fresh each day. The menu focuses on the Triple D burger topped with an over easy egg, apple wood smoked bacon, grilled jalapeno and cheddar cheese. For nonbeef eaters, the menu's selection of burgers also includes turkey and veggie varieties, as well as The Greek, a seasoned lamb patty topped with tzatziki and feta. Burgers are also available in a lettuce wrap or on a salad in a healthy salad bowl.
Diners can request all of BGR The Burger Joint's freshly made fries?from thick-cut yukon gold potatoes to asparagus fries?be topped with parmesan, rosemary, roasted garlic, or a tiny tiara. The staff hand-spins shakes with Gifford's or Breyers ice cream to create extra-thick treats for finishing off meals, and some shops curate their own selection of bottled vintage sodas and offer beer and wine.
A basic understanding of Greek can help you understand the vibe at Yamas. The restaurant takes its name from the Greek word meaning "to your health," or "cheers." You might hear that often at the bar, where the staff mixes cocktails such as the Yamas Martini?made with Ketel One vodka and served with feta-stuffed olives. A glance at the menu also reveals the word "mezze," or small plates such as hummus and calamari, which make the perfect complement to drinks or handfuls of feta-covered Opa! fries.
Beyond those shareable plates, Yamas' chefs specialize in gyros (of the lamb and beef variety) and rotisserie chicken, which they marinate in lemon and spices. Fresh ingredients are key to these recipes, including naturally-raised meats and local organic produce.
The restaurant also embodies Greece in visual ways. The national colors of blue and white define the decor, and a painting of a Grecian beach covers much of the walls. That mural serves as the backdrop to occasional live entertainment, including an open-mic and comedy night on Saturdays.
Head Chef Duarte Rebolo‘s career began on his native island of Maderia, where he cooked for tourists before embarking on a journey that saw him creating luxurious dinners on Celebrity Cruise Lines and working with world-renowned chefs at the Watergate. Today, Rebolo recreates the authentic tastes of Portugal with Tavira’s menu of fresh seafood, goat-cheese-stuffed peppers, and colorful pasta. Music from a live classical guitarist mingles with the scents of mussels, steaks, and warm apple tatins. Diners sip fine wine at the full-service bar, or dine on lunchtime sandwiches of marinated lamb or dinners of grilled chicken in spicy piri-piri sauce. The bill of fare celebrates Portugal’s rich maritime history with ample selections of salted cod, salmon, and shrimp, as well as a pop-up book insert detailing all the fish that got away from Prince Henry the Navigator.